X-rays and CT scans

 X-rays were first discovered over a hundred years ago.  Since that time they have proved invaluable in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

 X-rays are used routinely in orthopaedic conditions and they are frequently the first and most useful investigation to be performed.  X-rays demonstrate the bones and joints extremely well and can also give clues about the soft tissues.  They are useful for diagnosing fractures and dislocations and for seeing how well a fracture is healing.  They can also show arthritis, bone and joint infection as well as showing bone growths.  X-ray technology is very advanced and current Xray equipment lets us obtain precise and detailed images of the areas of interest.  The X-rays are taken by specially trained staff (radiographers) who are highly skilled and experienced in this area of work. Once the X-ray film has been developed, it can be reviewed immediately.  X-ray tests are quick to perform and involve very little inconvenience or discomfort.

CT Scanning is a highly specialised form of X-ray investigation that produces incredibly detailed images of the bones joints and soft tissues.  Although it is a very powerful investigation it is not needed or appropriate in every single patient and tends to be reserved for complex problems that have not been solved by the use of ordinary Xrays or other tests.

The examination is performed in a special scan room within our mobile unit and involves lying on the scan table which moves into the centre of a big “polo” ring, which contains the Xray tube.  Whereas an ordinary Xray test produces one or two images, a CT scan produces a huge number of very fine detailed images, which can be printed out or can be viewed on a computer screen. Each of these images contains a lot of information and each one of the images has to be studied carefully before a report can be issued. A very powerful computer is involved which can be used to enhance and manipulate the images so that a complex problem can made easier to diagnose.  The scan itself is very quick to perform (a few minutes in total) and usually involves no physical inconvenience or discomfort.  Occasionally for certain diagnostic problems it is necessary to give an injection of a X-ray dye “contrast agent” containing iodine to show up the area being scanned in even better detail.  These injections are given through a small needle into a vein in the arm.  If a “dye” injection is required the radiographer will explain the details at the time of the scan.

© Peter James Hughes 2015